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Rhaenrya stares into camera while backlit by a roaring fire in House of the Dragon Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

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What House of the Dragon’s Dance of the Dragons means for the show’s future

Greens vs. Blacks is the Game of Thrones prequel’s main event

You’ve probably noticed a drastic uptick in the kind of fantasy jargon that House of the Dragon fans like to throw around over the last couple of weeks. From the Greens to the Blacks, to the Dance of the Dragons itself, it can be pretty easy to lose the run of things. Fortunately, all you really need to know at this point is who’s batting for which team.

Now that the Dance of the Dragons has kicked off in earnest, we’re about to see several seasons’ worth of fire and blood. But what’s actually in store for House of the Dragon season 2 and beyond? Here’s what we know (with minimal spoilers) between what’s been said about the Dance of the Dragons by the series creators, and George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, which, in a fun twist, has only proved somewhat reliable in anticipating the historical plotting of the adaptation.

What is the Dance of the Dragons?

By episode 10, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) has successfully launched a coup d’état to install Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms ahead of his half-sister, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). Naturally, this isn’t going to go down well with the Realm’s Delight (Rhaenyra’s nickname) or the many nobles who swore fealty to her over a decade ago. There will be consequences.

Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) standing with his back to the camera at his coronation, preparing to walk down an aisle with King’s Guard troops raising their swords overhead Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

For the uninitiated, the Dance of the Dragons is the civil war between belligerent Targaryen factions vying for control of the Realm, which results in death, betrayal, and the near-extinction of dragons themselves. As Archmaester Gyldayn writes in Fire & Blood, it probably would have been more accurate to call it “The Dying of Dragons.”

It’s important to note that there are multiple different accounts of the Dance within the fiction of George R.R. Martin. For example, Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan), the Grand Maester currently serving under Aegon, wrote his version of the story, while other accounts come from Grand Maester Munkun, Septon Eustace, and the fool Mushroom, whose “history” reeks of embellishment yet wins the prize for “Most Entertaining.” All of these chronicles have their own unique biases, meaning that none of them — not even the aforementioned Fire & Blood, which is the official source material for House of the Dragon — can be fully trusted.

(This is even referenced in-universe in A Dance With Dragons, the fifth novel in GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Here, Tyrion explicitly states that one of the chroniclers, Munkun — who purported to write the “true telling” of the Dance — was wrong in that he confused Urrax with Rhaeynra’s dragon, Syrax. As we can all recall, he drinks and he knows things.)

Weirdly enough, the discrepancies between these accounts are what ultimately afford House of the Dragon a worthwhile premise, in that they allow HBO to carve out its own true version of what actually happened by drawing inspiration from all of them. And now, after nine episodes of buildup, we’re finally at the point where the Dance begins.

If you want a clear indication of what exactly started the Dance, most people agree that the first casualty was Lyman Beesbury, the master of coin who vouched for Rhaenyra when Otto announced his plan to have Aegon usurp her. This is a rare instance in which all of the contradictory accounts are in agreement with one another, although they offer different perspectives for how he died in the book. Somehow, Ser Criston Cole makes even Mushroom’s version, in which Lord Beesbury is flung from a window, seem tame in comparison to his second skull-shattering in one season. Remember how you all liked him?

Anyway, that’s how the Dance commenced. Once Aegon was crowned king (with a new crown no less, in that King Viserys’ was stolen to bring to Rhaenyra in Dragonstone), there was no going back. And now, the Greens and the Blacks are at war.

But who’s on which side?

Who is Team Green?

Alicent seated at the Small Council table with her hands folded on the table in front of her. To her right her father stands with his hands slightly clasped; on her left, Ser Criston stands at the ready Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

The term “Green” is derived from the color of a dress Queen Alicent Hightower wore to a tourney in 111 AC (Rhaenyra wore black to this event, which is similarly where “Black” comes from). House of the Dragon has been referencing this conflict for several weeks, with Larys drawing attention to Alicent’s attire as early as episode 5: “Green is the color the Hightower burns when they call their banners to war.” The show has relied on visual cues like this ever since, to the extent that you can generally tell who’s fighting for who by looking at the color of their clothes (obviously, black is a fairly standard color for noble attire, but it’s definitely a reliable tell for green).

So who’s on Team Green, aka Team Alicent? Here are her main allies right now:

  • King Aegon II Targaryen, her son and Lord of the Seven Kingdoms
  • Queen Helaena Targaryen, Aegon’s sister-wife
  • Ser Otto Hightower, her father and Hand of the King
  • Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
  • Prince Aemond Targaryen, her son
  • Prince Daeron Targaryen, her son
  • Ser Tyland Lannister, master of ships (this will change to master of coin)
  • Lord Larys Strong, Lord of Harrenhal and unofficial master of whisperers
  • Grand Maester Orwyle
  • Lord Jasper Wylde, master of laws

We’ll also see her receive support from the Baratheons, the Hightowers, the Strongs, and the Lannisters. And the most recent episode pointed out that Ser Arryk — one of the two Cargyll twins — is Team Green, too.

In fairness to Alicent, she is much more complex in the show than she is in the book. In the latter, she’s in on Otto’s scheming from the start, and wasn’t childhood pals with Rhaenyra. Here, however, we see that she is driven by her misinterpretation of Viserys’ dying words. There was even a moment in episode 9 where it seemed like reconciliation was possible! That is, until you remember this is a story written by George R.R. Martin.

Who is Team Black?

Daemon (Matt Smith) and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy)  standing and looking shocked at someone out of frame Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

We’ve already explained where the term “Black” comes from, but who are the main characters on Team Rhaenyra?

  • Prince Daemon Targaryen, her uncle-husband
  • Prince Jacaerys Velaryon, her son
  • Prince Lucerys Velaryon, her son
  • Prince Joffrey Velaryon, her son
  • Prince Aegon Targaryen, her son
  • Prince Viserys Targaryen, her son
  • Lord Corlys Velaryon, Master of Driftmark and Lord of the Tides
  • Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, her aunt and Lady of Driftmark
  • Lady Baela Targaryen, her step-daughter
  • Lady Rhaena Targaryen, her step-daughter

Rhaenyra will receive much more support from the Houses that Game of Thrones fans will be familiar with, with the Arryns, the Freys, the Greyjoys, the Tarlys, and even the Starks pledging their allegiance to her. She also has Erryk, the other Cargyll twin. It should be pretty obvious that they’re gearing up for House of the Dragon’s Cleganebowl.

Who is in better shape to win the Dance of Dragons?

To answer this, there are quite a few variables to consider.

The Greens obviously have the advantage when it comes to positioning. They’re in King’s Landing, can easily visit the Great Houses to enlist support, and have access to essentially infinite cash. But the Blacks have something no amount of money can buy: dragons.

The closing scene of episode 9, in which Rhaenys storms the Dragonpit with Meleys, was there for more than just shock value. The reason Alicent had previously imprisoned Rhaenys was because her dragon is an invaluable bargaining chip — either Aegon has an extra cannon with wings, or Rhaenyra does.

When it comes to sheer (and literal) firepower, the Blacks are in a much better spot. As it stands, the Greens have three dragons: Sunfyre, Dreamfyre, and Vhagar. (Light spoiler: Prince Daeron will receive one later on as well.)

But the scales are still tipped heavily in favor of Rhaenyra, who has Syrax, Caraxes, Vermax, Arrax, Tyraxes, Moondancer, and Meleys, as well as Seasmoke, now riderless thanks to Laenor’s departure. There are also three wild dragons on Dragonstone that could be tamed by dragonseeds: The Cannibal, the Grey Ghost, and Sheepstealer. That’s not to mention all of the eggs knocking about.

Unfortunately, the Blacks only have five actual dragonriders right now. So while they have more dragons, they’re short on people to tame them (though that can be arranged). When you consider the size of Aemond’s Vhagar, a five-versus-four scenario becomes much more evenly matched.

Another detail that we would be remiss to omit is Daemon’s influence, the value of which can’t be overstated. From his previous allegiance to the Goldcloaks to his relationship with Mysaria, to all of his various connections throughout Westeros and beyond, his charm is good for much more than mere flattery. He’s basically an army in and of himself. And he’s hungry for a fight: In “The Black Queen,” Rhaenyra refers to the coming battle as Daemon’s war.

What will happen in House of the Dragon season 2?

So what happens after the coup?

Without delving too deep into spoiler territory, we’ll obviously see a counter-coronation for Rhaenyra, who will then form her own Black Council. Once the war begins, it will go on for around three years, which means we’re almost definitely finished with actors being recast. This is fitting in that House of the Dragon will have four seasons. One for each year, perhaps?

There are also some fascinating changes that point to ways in which House of the Dragon could even subvert the expectations of book-readers, such as Laenor and Ser Harrold Westerling being alive. It’s an exciting time for Game of Thrones fans — if only we didn’t have to wait a whole year after the finale airs this Sunday.

Ah well. At least we can go back to Thrones, the world-renowned fantasy series that also has exactly four seasons and no more than that.

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